Vanessa West
Chief of Staff

Victoria Austin
Executive Assistant


Maureen Buchan
Senior Policy Advisor


An Anishinaabe from Bearskin Lake First Nation in Northern Ontario, Maureen has over 15 years of experience working for First Nations Political Organizations. She has a Master of Arts in Indigenous Governance from the University of Victoria as well as an Advanced Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Government from the University of Manitoba. Maureen was formerly an Associate Faculty Member at the University of Victoria and has worked as a Policy Analyst and Specific Claims researcher for the Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC). Other experience includes research work for various organizations including the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, Nicola Valley Institute of Technology, and Musqueum Nation. As co-founder of Sparrow-Grant Consulting, Maureen has provided policy, political, and strategic advice for a number of BC First Nations. A proud mother of two, Maureen currently resides on Musqueam Territory.

Jaime Sanchez
Special Advisor to the Regional Chief


Jaime has spent over 10 years working with First Nations in BC focused on building capacity, policy and strategic advice, natural resource management and negotiations with the Crown and industry. Some of his accomplishments include establishing a centralized mapping office, providing certified aboriginal land use planning training, co-designed and delivered a First Nations Referrals Officer Program, as well as assisting with multi-million-dollar negotiations for energy projects and reconciliation agreements.


Jaime has also co-facilitated the creation of the BC First Nations Forestry Action Plan, and the BC First Nations Mineral Exploration and Mining Action Plan; more recently he has been working with First Nations in northern BC in negotiations related to reconciliation, and natural gas pipeline developments. He has worked for, among others, the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council, BC First Nations Energy and Mining Council, BC First Nations Technology Council, BC Aboriginal Mine and Training Association, Nadleh Whut’en First Nation and Musqueam Indian Band.  Jaime is a Registered Professional Planner (RPP), and Member of the Canadian Institute of Planners (CIP), having graduated from the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) in 2005 with a degree in Environmental Planning, with a focus on First Nations Community Planning.


As a first-generation Canadian living with his two sons in Snuneymuxw territory (Nanaimo), Jaime is passionate and dedicated to being part the reconciliation needed in Canada. His own family was displaced due to the military dictatorship in Chile in the 1970s, which has informed his drive and passion for seeking solutions to conflicts and restitution of historic wrongs.


Melanie Lyons
Finance Manager

Derek Hansom
Economic Development Policy Analyst


Annette Schroeter, MA
Communications Officer

Patricia Rojas
Regional Climate Change Coordinator


Patricia is the BCAFN’s Regional Climate Change Coordinator. She has worked for over 15 years with indigenous peoples focusing on the protection of collective rights, social and environmental justice, and self-determination.

Her experience providing technical and strategic support to indigenous communities includes: policy analysis and political advocacy related to mining, climate change and environmental issues; engagement with mining companies and governments; and, reform to Peru’s water protection and governance laws. Other experience includes measuring carbon footprints, teaching and curriculum development.

She received a Master’s Degree in Sustainability, with a speciality in Policy Analysis, from the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (Barcelona, Spain); and a Master’s Degree in Social Management from the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, and a Bachelor Degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Cajamarca.

Patricia is a first-generation Canadian from Peru, and her extensive work experience has been primarily in Latin America and Europe. She is passionate about climate and social justice for indigenous peoples and believes that these are intrinsically linked. She is excited to work for BC’s First Nations because she believes that indigenous peoples’ values, knowledge and systems of governance are essential to address climate change.


Samantha Seymour
Administrative Support Worker


Samantha Seymour has just started as the Administrative Support Worker at the BCAFN. She is a proud member of the Lheidli T’enneh Band and recently finished a position as a Community Engagement Intern for the Lheidli T’enneh Treaty team. Samantha attended school at Kelly Road Secondary and graduated in 2015. Her goal is to acquire more knowledge in administrative duties and further develop a work ethic that will benefit herself and her community.

Sarah Froese
Policy Analyst


Sarah brings years of research experience, as well as skills in policy analysis and community engagement that she gained through the University of British Columbia’s Master of Public Policy and Global Affairs program. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Psychology from the University of Manitoba, where she attended school in her home province before moving to Vancouver. Most recently she participated in research on impact assessments and decision-making processes in Canada, and renewable energy applications. Sarah enjoys being active in her community and learning from others. Her aim is to make a valuable contribution toward the goals of BCAFN and develop skills to continue serving our communities in the future.


Emmy Beaton
Special Advisor, Policy and Government Relations


Emmy brings 13 years’ experience that has encompassed a variety of roles across the public sector, including working within the Crown Corporation and the federal and provincial governments. Her area of expertise is building trust and productive relationships between governments and First Nations by developing and leading both strategic and operational initiatives. Her focus is building partnerships with various levels of government, industry, and First Nations communities on collaborative governance; and creating mechanisms that support First Nations’ communities to incorporate their cultural heritage, traditional knowledge and laws into natural resource management. Emmy has led meaningful and innovative engagement processes that lead to improved relationships, developed programs and policies, and has a depth of experience providing strategic policy and communications advice to advance reconciliation objectives between Indigenous communities and the province.

In her work with BCAFN, Emmy applies her nine years of post-secondary education, which focused on political and social factors related to Indigenous language shift and language loss, the interrelationship between policies and laws and the ongoing reconciliation processes between Indigenous communities and governments, and developing culturally competent dispute resolution processes. She holds an undergraduate degree in linguistics with a focus on Aboriginal language revitalization; and a Masters of Arts in dispute resolution from the University of Victoria which provides the theory, tools and tactics necessary to analyze conflict and facilitate the development of shared interests in multi-party negotiations in cross-cultural settings.

As a mixed-heritage woman with settler and non-affiliated Cree ancestry, Emmy is grateful to be living on the unceded territory of the Lekwungen-speaking Coast Salish peoples.